Virtual Worlds > Utopian UMD

Project 1 > Due Wed Sept 30th

Students contribute to a class image bank, sharing their collective documentation of landscape, architecture, plant life, people, transportation, recreation…

Individually, students develop Utopian visions of a new UMD campus. Students can explore the roots of utopian thinking, research artwork that depicts idealized communities through out history, or investigate virtual worlds in the digital era.

Each student creates at least 3 views of their utopian campus, rendered by using digital compositing techniques in photoshop. Final images should be horizontal format, printable to 8×10 (or larger). Keep print resolution at 200ppi, if possible. Some image bank images may be lower resolution.

Prepare a statement about your approach to this project and your vision of an ideal campus. ( about 150 words). Post to the blog by Mon Sept 28. Save images as jpgs for online photo gallery.

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35 thoughts on “Virtual Worlds > Utopian UMD

  1. Focus On Student Housing

    The basis of my design is consistent with my belief that our student housing is far from ideal. This model reconsiders the overall design, function, and aesthetic of dormitory and apartment living. With inspiration from modernist architect and urban planner Le Corbusier, this design features flexible floor plans, areas for recreation, and accessible green space in an urban environment. The one level, open-floor plan allows students to create unique shared living spaces with great views, while enjoying the privacy of their own bedroom.
    Also convenient for students, is the covered garage beneath the living area, and roof access for gardens and outdoor socializing. Each building can be modified to accommodate dormitory-style living with shared bedrooms, and cafeteria access or apartment-style living with single bedrooms and full kitchens. Overall, the adaptability and accessibility of the structure is ideal for the college students’ academic success, and social disposition.

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  2. Amara Barthelemy

    In my Utopian UMD I designed a courtyard with entryway. This is a place of relaxation and reflection. This area is designed for leaser activities. Students and faculty can do paper or bookwork, they may inquire in small social gatherings, they can reflect and study the works of art or beautiful plants or they may have a quiet area to reflect on their own life. There are no tables or benches. Everyone will sit on the lush grass or cool granite sidewalks. This is not the place for stress.

    As you walk through the bright hallways you will find a large wooden door. This leads to the courtyard. As you enter there is a boardwalk that leads you down the center and along side the reflecting pool. After that, feel free to walk on the grass or along the granite walkways on either side. It is recommended to take your shoes off to enjoy this place of tranquil delight. Spend time walking around the art pieces as well as the gardens and trees. As the seasons change the courtyard changes. In the fall, enjoy the rich colored trees and crisp, cool air. Once the snow falls, a large, clear dome will protect the courtyard from snow and ice. It will turn into an indoor courtyard. The natural order of trees may change but the grass will stay green all year and the flowers will be at constant care. The courtyard’s maintenance will provide students with jobs as well as class projects and volunteer work. There are more windows and sky-walks around campus as well. This allows everyone to see the beautiful place on his or her way to and from class.

    A peaceful place such as this would be the essence to my Utopian UMD.

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  3. Ava Grendahl’s Utopia of UMD is similar to a green house. I envisioned that the whole of Duluth is enclosed in this giant green house glass case that allows us to have beautiful, decent weather all year around. We have classes all over Duluth. Students can walk to class at one of the lighthouses by entering a green ivy archway that is covered with flowers and plants. They can walk down this tile hallway while listening to birds chirping overhead. The hallways are filled with flowered ivies all over the brick walls. The other classrooms have different tropical scenery like a beach front with sand that leads to the other lighthouse of Duluth. It is furnished with luxurious chairs and chandeliers. The students of my tropical Duluth can wear what ever they want cause the university is always set at a comfortable climate. There is no real need for transportation because the entire school is in this glass bubble – so everything is in walking distance.

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  4. My utopian UMD comes from the idea of a fusion of the full organic and technology with human interaction. My UMD’s grounds have been over run by the wild life and nature surrounding St. Louis County, we have bagels forest growing out and climbing onto the business building, the entry ways and study lounges been engulfed by Lake Superiors tributaries while sharing the space with the local animal life in harmony. People would ether walk to or ride motorcycles to school because its good for the environment and just plain old fun. The Technology would be apart of the landscape and intertwine with the buildings arcutexture with out needing extra furniture or tables. In my utopian UMD every one would dress in a semi formal or outdoor wear, not just jeans and a tee shirt every day. Lastly the students who work there themselves would make about the schools past or what ever there latest inters is.

    TJ Sikorski

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  5. Blank Slate Campus

    The two primary elements of my utopian campus design are the physical architecture of the entire campus itself, and the structure of the education students receive there.

    I call the layout a “Blank Slate Campus” because in its ‘default’ state, it’s completely white and empty. The building itself is like a digital canvas, and the occupants’ presence is like the paint. Lining every floor-ceiling intersection are long lines of powerful RGB LED lights, and miniature projector units. As occupants enter and move about the building, sensors communicate to the building to make changes to the lighting and projected patterns throughout the interior. Total occupancy, average speed of passerbys, exterior temperature, seasonal changes, holidays, events, and time of day all contribute to how the lighting within the building changes.

    The type of education students receive here is similar to your average state-run university, except everything is collaborative. From the very beginning of a students education, they work in conjunction with all other fields of study. The physical architecture of the school encourages congregation, and forces students to interact on different levels. Outside organizations receive discounted deals when they hire currently enrolled students from the university, which gives students constant real-world experience all throughout their time studying here. On-campus dormitories and transportation hub provide students with convenient access with the outside world, without needing to own their own vehicle.

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  6. Holly Urspringer

    My approach for my Utopia is for all students to be comfortable and be able to enjoy all the seasons at once. Being a figure skater and hockey cheerleader I love the winter season, but I am torn between that and the summer seasons because i love being able to tan and have fun at the beach to get away from the bitter cold. I know many students feel just as torn as I do, so my ideal campus would satisfy all season at once. Being able to ice or hockey skate to school would be so much faster than walking, but being able to enjoy the summer warmth and spring flowers is exactly how I would want it to be. Another handy thing for students, that I would really love to have would be an automated parking system that lets you know if the parking lot is full and when a spot opens it directs your vehicle to that exact spot so you don’t have to waste gas, time, money, and keep exhaust fumes down. Overall my Utopia would be able to satisfy all students season preferences and to have easier parking access.

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  7. My Utopian UMD is based on culture exploration. I believe all UMD students should have the opportunity to travel all around the world. For students to be able to explore different countries and to meet people of different cultures. It’s a once in a life time opportunity every student should be able to experience. A train station built into the campus will allow students to purchase tickets to go anywhere. Every two months students will have a two week break to do just this.

    The overall layout of the campus has an outdoor artsy look to it. Students are able to express their creativity throughout the campus whether it’s painting on brick walls, spraying graffiti on train cars, or posting digital designs on billboards. There is a snowboarding and ski hill right behind the school, bike and hiking trails throughout the city. All buildings on campus resemble famous architecture from all around the world. To keep students connected event posters with travel opportunities and local festivities will be displayed on phone booths and other locations around the school. The main objectives of my Utopian UMD is for students to express themselves creatively, embrace the outdoor environment around them, and explore the world through traveling.

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  8. Jessica Brotzler

    My utopian UMD is something that I think is actually probable. I would love to have a place on campus that is open 24 hours a day. I want a place that is safe, but actually cool. I want a place where students can artfully express themselves to their peers. Putting all these things together I created a coffee place on campus that is open 24 hours a day. It is a freestanding building that is open and simple. Inside you will find all fare trade coffee, a place to brew your own coffee beans, wireless Internet, strong lights, outlet plug-ins at every table, and a carefree environment. On the outside of the building one wall would be considered an open canvas for students to create art on as long as it was not offensive to others. Every month it will be painted over, and the “canvas” would be open again.

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  9. Originally when I received the limits and regulations of this assignment I wanted to create an entire green scene out of pieces of the photos. I believed that a utopian UMD would be a UMD without the ugliness of buildings or cement and could have been much better off being nothing but a jungle of Northwoods timber. But as I began the process of taking photos of the campus I realized that a real UMD utopia was not one without all of the buildings but instead one without all the people. I have a strong aversion to large gatherings of strangers and find most people to be irritating so I used the powers of Photoshop to alleviate the masses of people from the images. And I was able to stay somewhat in the confines of my original concept by limiting the amount of buildings I allowed to stay in the compositions. This would be a wonderful utopian campus for one person at a time.

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  10. Utopian Campus.

    For me the perfect campus would be having a proper space for the art school. What I want it to create was a view of the art department more creative, and at the same time were all the art students could help create with all of the methods of arts that are created in this department. At the same time UMD has became more and more eco- friendly, so I decided that I wanted to create this environment in which I could be able to show that we are concern about the environment that we live in. The first picture is a overview of the Kirby Plaza located in the center of a flower surrounding it is a piece of public art. I had chosen the Kirby Plaza because is the one of the main point of UMD, also where everyone taking the public transportation arrives to. The main transportation in my utopian campus would be tree climbing. The second picture is mostly a most close up of the art school (the outside). In this picture I decided to create something were the students will be more comfortable and think of this place as a part of a campus where they can be them selves. The third picture would be the inside of the art department (a hall) surrounded with many types of art, giving the students the opportunity to show other people that pass by this hall.

    Abby Daza

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  11. My Utopian UMD designs are based around my fondness of plants and being outside. If it was my UMD, I would love to have more outdoor elements integrated into the buildings. I would plant trees indoors, and have them and various other plants growing around the architecture of the building. Along with having more foliage in the inside of the buildings on campus I would also have a lot more art covering the walls of the campus. The walls would be open for graffiti by students so that the students had the ability to decorate the walls how they want them to be. This would be a huge improvement over the generic paint job that is currently on the walls at UMD. Finally, the campus itself would be lifted off the ground and in giant trees, so that students would go to classes in tree houses instead of regular buildings. This is my vision of a utopian UMD.

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  12. Ashley Wetzel

    My ideal UMD campus would be more centralized making it easier for students to get around campus. There would be a central courtyard for students to hang out and do homework. The courtyard would have entrances to each of the buildings on campus allowing students to cut through for a faster route to class. The next thing that my ideal campus would have is a building for the school of art and design. It is unfair that art and design classes are thrown into extra rooms that other schools aren’t using for the semester. This building would be modern looking with clean lines with visually appealing materials to make it. It would also have wild flowers outside. The last thing I would add to my utopian UMD is a parking ramp. Parking on campus is terrible. It can take up to a half hour to find a parking space at times. By adding these things to UMD’s campus it would make it a lot more efficient and student friendly.

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  13. The Utopian UMD I envision is inside of an acoustic guitar. The entire campus is located inside of the body. You get there by walking on the strings and enter through the sound hole. Parking will be available on top of the body itself and there will always be spots open. All the buildings on campus are basically floating on air and that is all you have to do to get to class as well. Because we’re inside the sound hole, the weather is never bad, and everybody enjoys it when the guitar is tuned up every two weeks. The structure of the entire campus changes every day as buildings float from corner to corner. It is not hard to get lost though because there are portals located throughout the buildings with a touch screen keyboard, and you type in where you need to go and it brings you there instantly. It’s never too crowded and never too cold either, at the campus in the guitar.

    Mark Huebsch

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  14. In the creation of my utopian campus, I’ve decided to approach my frustrations with housing. The living situation of the residents (and RAs) is far from ideal. I believe that housing needs to take into consideration the environment of its students never stepping outdoors. Many do not step into day light for days at a time, simply because it isn’t necessary. Many also suffer from seasonal depression, and in general become a unenergetic.
    It is from this issue that I have created a living environment that includes pods of residents with common living spaces. They would include large dome-like windows and the pods would decorate as they see fit (both creating a responsible community and a better living environment).
    As housing supposedly aims to accommodate and cater to academics, my uptopia housing would include futuristic study areas, and greenhouse-like spaces. They would again be dome like, allowing much needed sunlight in, and giving students an “outdoor area” to lounge in outside of the snow.

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  15. For my design I decided to do the theme of super human abilities. It is a fun project to ask my friends what super power they would want to have and then try to create what they want. I decided to try and make it look realistic yet also have qualities of a fantasy. The composition of a panorama opens up the picture and allows the characters to interact with their location in space and their environment. Having the whole background consist of an actual pieced together wide view of a real part of the campus gives it part of the realistic feel. Heightened contrast and slightly unsaturated colors in the background make the characters pop more and also a more fantasy, cartoon feel. Recreating the sky digitally makes it a little more dreamlike and less realistic feeling. My aim is to create a unique wide angle view of the UMD campus with a few make-believe twists.

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  16. My Utopian campus would be a bit surreal. The buildings would be living and mobile, as well as many normal objects such as chairs, desks, etc. It would definitely make campus life a lot more interesting. Students would be able to “ride” the buildings as they roamed around campus. The school would be located near the lake and surrounded by forests. I see this new Utopia as a sort of magical place for students. Duluth is a beautiful city and feels like a special place to get away from the hustle-n-bustle of the big cities, but this campus would push that idea even further. It’d almost be like living in a dream. A very trippy dream, that is. This new school life would be far from ordinary. Like the school of Hogwarts, there would be little surprises around every corner.

    I mean really, who wouldn’t want to be 50 feet in the air on a walking building while studying for their classes?

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  17. Jason Hildebrandt

    My vision for the perfect campus is anything but a Utopia. It is a thrill-ride of ghosts and ghouls, frights and horrors. There is never a moment to catch your breath, because your breath has been repossessed by the grim reaper. You will enter the campus by death, and your own ghost being pulled into an abyss of spells and spooks. You will cross the river of blood and boils into the foyer and be escorted by your own bones to the “class” of your choosing. You will then proceed to lunch, through a hall whose floors move to their own accord, by spiders and night-crawlers. You will be served a bowl of grapes and spaghetti, or maybe something more sinister will be digesting in your dungeon… So run, rile and ruckus! This university feeds on your fears, nibbles at your nerves. If you feel you need to scream, then go ahead, run to your mummy and daddy. Beware your eternal deathucation.

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  18. -shawntelle bates

    The basis of my design is having the school be one big tree house. Each class room is in a different tree house and students would either have to climb up the stair case, or would have to cross a bridge that would connect the buildings together. I decided to have a stair case rather than having a ladder because they are safer. I also wanted to have windows on the whole class room buildings because where I went to high school we had no windows and it was sad, so now I’m all about having windows. I wanted to have tree houses because a lot of people go to school, and get stressed out and I think that reconnecting them to their childhood could calm them down, and I also wanted to have the tree houses in a field like area so that students could use the space underneath the classrooms to sit and relax, play sports, or anything that a person would need space to do. The one down fall of my idea is that there would be a lot of tree house class rooms in order to have this idea to work.

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  19. Amanda Duchene

    My Utopian UMD was based more on looking peaceful and outdoorsy. My UMD is in a valley with mountains behind it and lake superior laid out in front. The University would be a place for lots of outdoor recreation like canoeing and kayaking in the lake. The school would supply all equipment that would be necessary. The weather would stay nice enough all year round so that class could take place outside in the courtyards and so that the students could sit peacefully in the grass. The fashion style is the same as today and transportation around campus would be walking because everywhere would be a short distance from each other. Used the blur and smudge tools in all of my visions to give it more of a dreamy peaceful feel to the atmosphere.

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  20. Aphtin Rapp

    My focus for my Utopian UMD is to create a better functioning school that has been taken over by nature. The buildings have kept their shape but now are covered and intertwined with plants that have gained a mind of their own. Some classrooms have been raised into tree houses for a learning jungle adventure even if it is an accounting class. Parking is never a problem with the new parking ramp above the Solon Campus Center along with moats to kayak and bridges to walk over water to class. This new exterior has grown into the interior of the building creating a new environment within the school made up of forests with streams, mountain like walls and even dessert areas where people can go when winter becomes too much for them. Utopian UMD will be a place where nature gives the students a peaceful atmosphere to study, relax and observe nature all year round.

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  21. In my utopia of UMD, was an outside wolrd. My favorite seasons are fall, winter, and summer I wanted to show each of those seasons in my utopia. In my opinion, Duluth has a great fall, a little short, but it is a beautiful season. The cold, crisp air, and the changing of the leaves, make a hike in the woods sensational. Duluth’s winter is harsh, but I love it. When the wind is blowing, and the snow is falling, I will be at Spirit shredding the gnar (snowboarding). I wanted to to moutains because I enjoy snowboarding, and I thought it would be cool to snowboard to school. And finally, Duluth’s summer is perfect in my mind. It is nice and cool, and it gets hot and humid for only a couple of weeks during the summer, other then those couple weeks the summer is pretty mild. UMD would incorrporate my favorite things to do during those seasons.

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  22. Natalie White
    My ideal UMD would be outside with many more picnic tables and places to study. There would also be a significantly larger amount of huge comfortable chairs and couches to sit in. Since UMD would be having more classes and such outside we would also need to be in a warmer location while still keeping the beautiful greenery that we have now, but expanding what we have and adding more flowers everywhere and ivy on most of the school walls. Since we would be in a warmer spot everyone could ride a motorcycle or bike to school instead of having a car. Also we would live in a somewhat dry climate so the furniture outside wouldn’t get ruined and of course it would be bright and sunny most days. Although we would be living in a warmer location we would still be by the lake and have the ability to snowboard and ski during the winter as well.

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  23. The perfect society will never exist, however, using 2 dimensional design programs we can create the appearance of a “utopian UMD.”
    I love kayaking and being outdoors so in my utopian university students would paddle right into class. The hallways of my UMD will be canals lined with classrooms. My ideal UMD will be located right on the ocean so that I can go for a swim between studying.
    The gem of my utopian university will be the photography studio. Each student will receive top of the line photo equiptment as well as access to a fully outfitted studio. The studio’s walls will be covered in monitors displaying some of every student’s best work. The studio will also be outfitted with a professional large format printer for al photography students to use.

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  24. For my utopia design I wanted to focus on structure and abstraction. Instead of using regular buildings I wanted to use Jenga blocks to represent buildings.
    Whenever I play Jenga I always end up building with the blocks rather than actually play the game. While building a church one day, I was inspired to use the blocks to make my utopian school.

    I wanted to show more of a geometric campus rather than an organic one. Because of this my settings have mostly geometric shapes with very few trees, flowers, and people. Most of my buildings have a post and lintel structure.
    When starting this project I was not feeling particularly happy towards school. Thus this resulted in my images looking stormy and glum.

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  25. The way that I chose to design my Utopian UMD campus was initially around the architecture that I found in Duluth. I would love for UMD to buildings with beautiful and sophisticated architecture. Buildings, that portray a sense of rich history and learning. The campus would also feature art that was reminiscent of the architecture, sculptures of stone and different things.

    Another aspect to my Utopian UMD campus is that we would have access to the beautiful Lake Superior. So, in my design I set our campus on the shore of Superior to create that overall atmosphere of beauty.

    On a more abstract note, I would like for UMD to be a place where students could reach their full potential in learning and in life skills. It would be a campus that made their students in to the best people they can be not only learning career skills but life skills as well by not accepting mediocrity, but greatness =)

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  26. My utopian vision of UMD set in a very relaxed setting. Growing up in Duluth and spending a lot of time outdoors, I wanted my version of the campus to be surrounded by Duluth’s natural characteristics – such as the trees and Lake Superior. Being a student in the School of Fine Art and getting a lot of inspiration from nature and the outdoors, I decided to put A. B. Anderson Hall facing the lake. I also decided to add a parking ramp on campus as well so there would be excess amount of parking spaces and no one would ever have to worry about not having a place to park. Parking on the ramp is free to students and faculty; they only need to show their student UMD ID card to the attendant. The inside of the buildings on campus also have a relaxed setting. For example, even areas such as the sitting areas in the hallways there are comfortable chairs, lamps, and rugs. The inside of the buildings are set for relaxation and comfort, creating places for study.

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  27. In my Utopian the campus is in the middle of a valley, it is surrounded by snow and terrain and to get to class you have to ski or snowboard down. It is surrounded by 4 parking lost each next to a chairlift. By the parking lots there are little chalets you can change into your boots at and lockers you can store your stuff in. The school is totally surrounded by terrain and every hill has a different difficulty for beginners or intermediate skiers. There is a race hill for the racers and a terrain park for the tricksters. The campus itself will stay the same except for the dorms and apartments, they would be located on top of the hill along with the Dining Center and the Food Court.

    I wanted UMD to be a place where people could really enjoy winter since that is the season we are most known for and also so people could learn something new whether it was skiing itself or getting better and what you already know, I wanted it to push you to try new things. I wanted UMD to be seen as a fun place where you can also learn.

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  28. My idea of a Utopian UMD would exist in a world where reality changed itself to please all those in it. So at any given time, the world can change to please those around them. The changes are not specific, but more so a general idea of what everyone wants. The changes are slow and gradual and are mostly aesthetic. Anything from color of the sky to teddy bears growing off of trees are things that can be changed. The only limit is that of your imagination. I feel like a world as such would help lower everyone’s stress levels and help people get through the day easier. How can one be made when one’s favorite candy is falling from the sky, or is UMD were to turn into a giant inflatable castle? People will be too focused on the beauty surrounding them to stress over tests or hate others because of the skin or sexual orientation. Peace love utopia.

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  29. The basic idea for my Utopia vision of UMD is to bring the mystery and beauty of Lake Superior into the backyard of the campus. I am also taking the idea of ski in- ski out resort living and out into dorm living style. With the student housing at the top of the mountain, students would have the choice to ski down the hill to class or take the gondola down. The campus buildings would be at the bottom of the hill and it would also be on the shores of Lake Superior. Since most of the students come to UMD because of the lake and Spirit Mountain, I thought how about combine the two and make it into the perfect campus that anyone has ever seen.

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  30. Andi Drusch

    My Utopian UMD isn’t as far fetched as some of the other examples in class. I was inspired by my tour of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and the new Labovitz School of Business and the Swenson Science building. I envision UMD having a brand new building just for the School of Fine Arts. This building will centralize all of the art classes and provide the perfect setting for creativity to blossom. Huge windows and high ceilings will be an excellent atmosphere for the studio classes, and brand new tablets and computers in all of the labs will be a Photoshopper’s delight.

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  31. I took a little different approach to this project. My utopian UMD does not involve brand new fancy buildings or incredibly new technology. My idea of utopia is structured around creating a place of peacefulness, beauty, and the idea of timeless romance.

    Adding more nature, not only in outdoor settings, but also a sense of natural beauty inside was one of the focuses. One of my views shows a hall transformed with projected artwork of roses. I’m also trying to create a sense of timelessness with black and white imagery and images of old street lamps and benches.

    I think in my utopia, it is important to not get caught up with the busyness and fast paced world as it is. But really find passion in where you are and what you are doing, and enjoy every day. I’m hoping my images create that vibe of that peacefulness and grace.

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  32. In my Utopian campus I would integrate more “art” into ever day areas where students would walk past or even walk on. I would also want to build a channel for a river that would flow through campus where students could swim or canoe. There would also be many unique bridges over it for access to other buildings on campus. I would also change the sidewalks and boring concrete walls around UMD and fill them with student designs so that our school would be customizable to our time. And the architecture would be more unique for each building so that It would be easy to navigate and be pleasant to look at as you walk though school. Overall I would just want the atmosphere to feel less like a business building and have a more creative feel that could inspire students as they travel and learn on campus.

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  33. Jake Kouba (revised edition)

    In this utopian vision, UMD is a green campus. Not only environmentally, but physically. But when gods keep everything running smoothly, there’s no need for any kind of waste, nor light poles. And that electrical outlet that’s always so damn hard to find, that’s not a problem. Thor keeps all electrical devices running like clockwork with the power of lightning. Neptune supplies the school with fresh, clean, delicious water from the pollutant free Lake Superior, and other gods help with daily routines. The school houses an atrium that literally opens to the heavens. This replaces the now obsolete library, as all the information you will ever need can be found here, just by thinking about it. The campus is blanketed with grass that never dies in a summer that never fades, and the whole complex is bathed in rich lighting of whatever color your mind imagines.

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  34. I’m tired of man living for the machine instead of himself. One must go to nature and break oneself, in order to find one’s self. I would say that is the overall theme of my series. I wanted my series to not just deal with nature, but to have nature integrated into the entire structural design. Buildings and people coexisting with nature and the creatures inhabiting. My series also got a little “scifi” with the school and it’s entirety floating on a large rock in the sky. I couldn’t think of a more relaxing place, than to be floating through the clouds. In my utopia, a place to relax outside and enjoyably learn is available. Not only is it available, it is encouraged.

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  35. corrected description to my original post “Blank Slate Campus”

    The kind of Utopia I envision in a university setting is one that brings together all students and faculty of diverse areas of study, as one educational unit. The centrally planned architecture and sustainable nature of the university encourages congregation and intermingling, as well as the educational structure itself. From the first day of class to graduation day, students collaborate with other areas of study on group projects.

    The campus relies on on-campus agricultural land as its source of food, as well as solar power and rain water collection systems. The university acts like communal society, but with advanced technology on their side making every day living safe and convenient.

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